Sweet LaynieCakes,

I joined a new club last week, one that’s been blinking on the periphery of my radar for years but somehow still managed to shock me with the swiftness of its arrival.

I am officially a school mama.

I’ve joined the ranks of those weary souls who find themselves deposited into the chaos that is Back to School season at Wal-Mart, who spend an entire day searching for beveled rulers and crayon boxes and the white erasers that don’t leave behind the gummy residue for which the pink erasers are famous (trust me on this one), and finally growing so exasperated in their fruitless searching that they actually shout in the middle of the paper aisle, “HAS ANYBODY FOUND THE MECHANICAL PENCILS?????”

I mean, I’m not saying I did that. (But yeah, I probably did.) And despite the utter pandemonium, I felt a thrill at stocking our cart with freshly sharpened crayons, at locating the perfect, sparkly pink Palace Pets backpack, at witnessing the unfettered and uncomplicated joy that painted your face as you flipped through your new math workbook and discovered that December would find you counting and circling colorful images of stockings, snowmen, and steaming mugs of piping hot cocoa.

I was able to revel in these moments without {much} fear of emotion, because even as I was up until midnight making the PB&Js and stuffing the folders and hand-lettering your “First Day of Pre-K” chalkboard, I was also relishing the comfort of knowing that immediately after we posed for your requisite first day of school photo the next morning, we would hop in the car together, drive to our homeschool co-op together, and spend the day in class together. No need for tears, because I got to spend the entire first day of school by your side.

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No crying for this mama.

At least not that day.

But the hard reality of this arrangement is that while I am relishing the comfort of knowing we will spend every waking moment of this school year together, I am also anticipating the challenges that will inevitably accompany our spending every waking moment of this school year together.

And to be honest? I may not have cried on your first day of school. But I cried twice during the first full week.

And although this is our first year homeschooling and our first journey together through this new and uncertain territory, I know myself, and thus I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these circumstances will prompt tears of both frustration and joy to flow freely many, many more times during the days and weeks ahead.

You may not have seen me crying as you posed so perfectly for your back to school photo-op last week.

But I guarantee you will see me crying as we struggle to find new rhythms, new routines, and new grace for each other as we figure this thing out.

And while you are certainly familiar with my tears (“fake it ‘til you make it” has never really worked out for me), this emotion will be flowing from a source you probably won’t understand until we are many, many more years into this sojourn.

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Because…

If you see me crying at the kitchen table before our day has even begun… It’s not because I regret this decision. It’s because I’m profoundly aware that I bear a huge responsibility not just for your education, but also for your knowledge and awareness of Christ. And I feel the weight of that responsibility every single day.

If you see me crying while I clear the breakfast dishes… It’s not because I’m sick of this monotonous, routine-driven life we lead. It’s because I’m marveling that when I lost my job two years ago, I never dreamed we could afford for me to stay home full-time with you, much less homeschool on one income. Your daddy works tirelessly to make this possible and God delights in radical provision. And I am still in awe.

If you see me crying as you struggle with a concept… It’s not because I’m frustrated with you. It’s because I’m frustrated with myself. And I am so, so scared that maybe I’m not cut out for this.

If you see me crying while I write lesson plans… It’s not because I’m overwhelmed by the work ahead. (Okay, sometimes it’s because I’m overwhelmed by the work ahead.) But mostly, it’s because I’m overwhelmed by all the learning and growing and changing you are going to do this year. (Weren’t you were my squishy little baby just yesterday?)

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If you see me crying when you read your first sentence… It’s not *just* because I’m intensely, earth-shatteringly proud of you. It’s because I’m terrified that you will no longer crawl into my lap and beg for “just one more chapter.” I’m terrified you won’t need me quite so much anymore.

If you see me crying at the end of a rough day… It’s not because I’m replaying all of your failures in my head. It’s because I’m replaying all of mine.

And if you see me crying, day after day, as we undertake this hard work together, as we commit to learn and grow and change together, as we spend every waking moment of this upcoming school year together… It’s not because I’m overwhelmingly stressed. It’s because I’m overwhelmingly blessed. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this season and this opportunity and this honor of being the one to take you by the hand and lead you forward into “…the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord…” (Isaiah 11:2).

I am just flat-out overcome with emotion.

And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to do this.

But more so, I would be crazy if I didn’t grab hold of all this year has to offer and store up these treasures in my heart.

So if you see me crying…

Know that it’s because of you. It’s because of wonderful, beautiful, smart, talented, funny, precious you.

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I love you every day,

Mama

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